Friday, June 6, 2014

Zürich: Day 1

Friday 6 June
I went to bed last night not knowing how was I was going to get to Luxembourg to make my train at 11. I had contacted a car-share, but he hadn't responded. I decide to wake up at 7 and hope for the best. If he couldn't take me I had to go to the bus station and hope they were running... All the website said was 'do not run every day' but didn't say which days. If no busses then Sabine tells me my next option is to hitchhike...

I wake up to a message saying "hey yeah I can pick you up at that address! See you at 8-8:15". Phew! I'm saved. Not only was I getting a ride to Luxembourg, he was picking me up at the place I was staying which made things super convenient. Sabine woke up at 7 to say bye, and we have breakfast. I then go stand on the street hoping he shows up. 

At around 8:15, a nice car pulls up and a guy pokes his head out "Danielle?" I respond "yeah, Simon?". He goes "hey get on in!" So I do. He has just moved to Trier on Monday from Berlin and is working in Luxembourg at the airport.  His wife is still studying in Berlin and will join him soon and he's not sure about Trier yet because it's quite different from Berlin. We chat the whole way, comparing travel stories. He has never heard of CouchSurfing and seems very surprised that it's free. The hour drive passes quickly, and when we arrive at the main terminal where the busses are I ask how much, and he says "no no don't worry about it. I was entertained on the ride" I protest but he insists. It wasn't going to be an expensive ride, maybe 10€, but still, his kindness makes me very optimistic for the day. 

Bus 16 arrives in less than 5 minutes, and I spent a whopping 2€ to get on. The airport and train station are quite far from each other, so I'm treated to a tour of the city on the way. It's incredibly hilly with ornate bridges and buildings. Once I arrive at the train station and pick up my tickets it's only 9:30, I have at least an hour to explore before I should be back on the platform. 

The train station. 

I get back to the train station and grab a coffee. I ordered in French... Kinda. My request for a "café" is followed by "French French French apporter?" I nod and say "apporter" because it was the last word she said and get a takeout cup, which is what I wanted. Only after I sit down in the waiting area do I remember they 'apporter' means to bring something away. Lol it's gonna be a long trip. 

The train arrives and I'm thrilled with it. 

I'm in a little compartment just like Harry Potter! Eeeeeeeeeeee! Okay I'm done now. 

The burnt orange tweed seats are giving me throwback vibes to the 70s.

We make 2 stops and are pulling into the next station, that I can only assume is in France, when all of a sudden there is a dog in my compartment sniffing my bags. I look up and see a man in the hallway with an armband that says 'douane' which takes me a minute, but then I remember that means customs. The dog was going through the train sniffing for drugs! And apparently I looked suspicious. 

The trip continues without much action until the compartment fills up in Strasbourg. We're all packed in like sardines and it's stifling. I'm slightly disappointed by the scenery from the train, very industrial most of the trip with occasional glimpses of hilly countryside. 

The trains last top is in Basel, so we all disembark and walk through customs. It didn't even occur to me that since Switzerland isn't technically part of the EU it's like the old days of custom checks and money exchanges when you enter a new country. The customs check is really two guys just eyeballing everyone that walks past, and even though I have nothing to worry about, I still feel nervous they'll call me aside. 

The train to Zürich leaves a short 20 minutes later, but it's so hot that everyone is waiting to get onto the train until the last minute. I pass the hour from Basel to Zurich with hair blowing in the wind and the noise of the train rattling through the carriage since every window is pulled open. I think every train I'm on today was made 20 years ago or more. I think it's equally quaint and irritating. 

I walk off the train in Zurich aware that mom knows my train arrival, and will probably try to meet me at the platform. I walk slowly looking around as the masses of people crisscross through the station thinking "there's no way I'm going to find her" when all of a sudden she runs up behind me. She was walking from another platform and happened to see me. 

We walk down the Limmat River towards City Backpacker Hostel, our home til Monday. 

Checking in

When in Trier I purchased a bottle of Riesling and Viez, apple wine. It seemed fitting. Since you can drink in public places in Switzerland (yay!), we take the viez and some snacks and head to the park by Lake Zurich after dropping my bags in the room. 

After a long, hot walk, we finally reach the oasis that is the grassy park with shaded trees. We plop down and enjoy the view. 

We had to get in the water, it was so refreshing. 

Determined to see as much as possible, since my late 
4pm arrival to Zurich really cramped our sightseeing schedule, we then head back north and go past the opera house. I realize that it's almost 7 and a lot of dressed up people are walking in, so I say we probably can't see the inside. Mom is not having any of that. She sneaks in the side entrance and just pokes her head in until we get yelled at by the ticket collector. I will admit, it was spectacular inside and worth the scolding. 

We work our way up to Grossmünsterplatz, but we can't get in. We settle for scenic shots of the outside and West Bank of the river. 

It's been a long day for both of us, but more for mom, so we head back. The original plan was to shower and be in bed by 9, but of course we spend too much time in the common room glued to our iPhones and iPads. 

Our hostel seems to be on a very popular square, Rosenhof, because live bands keep playing in the square into the wee hours of the night. Did I mention it was over 80 today? Oh yeah and the hostel doesn't have air...

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